Tuesday, August 04, 2020

Race of the Day- Georgia U.S. Senate B

Georgia U.S. Senate B

91 Days Until Election Day

Status: Republican Incumbent
2016 Presidential Result: Red State (South)

Outlook: Leans Republican

For the second straight day, the Race of the Day features a Peach State Senate contest. My ranking is the same for both. These are races that might lean slightly towards the GOP but due to the changing nature of the state and the expected national dynamic, the party will have to sweat out holding both of these seats.

This special election features much more uncertainty. For one thing, it is almost guaranteed not to be decided on Election Day as upwards of 20 names will appear on the ballot and whomever receives the most votes will likely still be well under 50 percent. The top two finishers, regardless of party, will advance to a January 5 runoff and potentially the entire U.S. Senate balance of power could depend on the outcome. It may also be the case that the regular Georgia Senate election between Republican incumbent David Perdue and Democrat challenger Jon Ossoff also goes to a runoff the same day. Would there be two races featuring the major parties or one traditional one sharing the ballot with a runoff here featuring two Republicans? What would Democrats do in such a situation? If this is the only statewide runoff on January 5, many will probably stay home.

I believe the new Congress will be sworn in the same day at the voting is being held in Georgia. If someone other than the current incumbent wins, they might suffer in terms of seniority. I wonder why Georgia is not doing runoffs in December anymore. Whomever is eventually sworn in will have to be ready to run all over again in the regular 2022 election for this seat.

A vacancy occurred at the end of last year with the resignation of Republican Johnny Isakson, who was elected to a third term in 2016, after having been around the state's politics for decades before that. Months earlier, Isakson announced he would be leaving at the end of the year due to health issues. The retiring Senator was widely respected across party lines for civility and cooperation. Politics itself and the nature of the political parties in Georgia had begun to change though. This put the state's new Republican Governor Brian Kemp in an interesting and perhaps unwelcome situation as a large bench of ambitious Republicans in the state wanted the appointment.

Kemp established a website asking Georgians to apply for the post of United States Senator and scores did. The Governor made it clear he wanted to pick someone not to just be a caretaker, but who would be able to hold the seat in 2020 and then run on a ticket with him in 2022. He had struggled with the African-American vote against a black opponent in his 2018 narrow and controversial election and had the opportunity here to name a black a Republican and it was said that a black female was among the finalists. Others wanted him to pick Congressman Doug Collins, a conservative, and former pastor, from the rural part of the state who had made a name for himself by being a strong defender of Donald Trump on the House Judiciary Committee where he served as the top Republican. Collins definitely wanted the appointment and seemed to have the White House in his corner. Despite this pressure, Kemp went in a different direction and chose financial executive Kelly Loeffler, a wealthy woman from Atlanta whose long blonde hair makes her somewhat resemble the wig wearing blonde from "Real Housewives of Atlanta."

Loeffler, who had never run for office was perhaps thought of as a more moderate Republican, in the realm of Isakson, but she pledged her strong support to Donald Trump and the Tweeter in Chief, who may have been a bit irked Kemp went against his wishes, offered her words of support upon taking the job. Collins though said that he would set aside his safe House seat to challenge her in the 2020 special election.

While Collins happens to share the name of a former NBA luminary, Loeffler is also attached to the world of professional basketball. She holds a stake in the ownership of the WNBA's Atlanta Dream. Becoming a Senator has taken her away from day to day decisions regarding the franchise, but she recently received much criticism from players on her team who took issue with her vocal opposition to the Black Lives Matters movement and national anthem walkouts. While her position may be a popular one with conservative primary voters in Georgia, some African-American players said they felt betrayed by the woman who they had considered a friend and who is technically their boss.

Of more significance perhaps for Loeffler were questions regarding allegations of insider trading right before the Covid 19 Pandemic hit. By virtue of her marriage, the Senator is believed to be the wealthiest Member of Congress. Democrats and her GOP opponent Collins have both tried to claim that she benefited financially via illegal tactics on the impact of the virus but she claimed that all the stocks owned by her and her husband had been put into a blind trust when she became a Senator and she had no decision making abilities on any of them. The couple has reportedly been cleared by the Justice Department of any wrongdoing but the damage to the reputation of a still largely unknown politician might have stuck.

Polls have tended to show Loeffler and Collins atop the very large field in Georgia, with both in the the 20 percent range. In some, the two Republicans are very close, while others had Collins somewhat ahead. If they were to finish as the top two, it would be a great relief to many Republicans, but then things might get even nastier among them headed into a January runoff. Would they ignore Democrat voters altogether and just try to appeal to the base in what would be a potentially very low turnout or would Loeffler suddenly start trying to appeal to Democrats? It is hard to see Doug Collins doing so. The outcome of the Presidential election and the potential dynamics of the other Senate race going to a runoff may also play a part.

Democrats will hope to somehow get into this runoff where they think they can pick up this seat. It seems quite possible that one could advance, but right now, it seems like they might have too  many candidates dividing up the vote and that could lead them completely shut out at the next round. Pressure may mount for one of the Democrats with some support but behind that of at least two others, to drop out. It is worth noting that several of the Democrats running for this seat are black (and there are lesser known black Republicans on the ballot as well), as well as Independent candidates including a female black State Representative running as one. No black Democrat of note entered the primary for the regular Senate seat, in which the party's nomination went to Jon Ossoff, a Jewish-American. The one notable white Democrat in the special election is also Jewish. Ossoff has endorsed the leading black candidate in the field hoping that such a coalition will help him in his race.

Now, let's look at just some of the players on that part of the very large "jungle primary" ballot. All of them seem to be first time candidates. Businessman Matt Lieberman is the one white candidate who has generated a significant amount of support. He is the son of former Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman, whom 20 years ago was the well-liked Vice Presidential nominee of his party, but who later fell out of favor as the party shifted left and he would go on to support his friend Republican John McCain.

The Democrat who seems to be polling the highest though  and who has by far captured the most in the way of endorsements is Raphael Warnock, a longtime civil rights activist who happens to be the Senior Pastor of the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, one time home base of MLK. In that role, Warnock received international attention for presiding over the funeral of Congressman John Lewis.

The next most prominent African-American Democrat in the race is Ed Tarver, a former State Senator and U.S. Attorney. He has been polling at around fifth place, behind the two main Republicans, Warnock, and Lieberman. If he were to end his campaign, it would theoretically increase the chances of one of the Democrats, most likely Warnock, finishing ahead of either the incumbent Loeffler or Collins to make the January runoff. There are also four African-American women running as Democrats. The party is likely to put pressure on one or more of these candidates to exit before November.

So, what could happen? Well, if Collins and Loeffler advance, the seat is Safe Republican and my "Leans" classification here is all for naught. That is a possibility, but it would be a very disappointing one for Democrats. I am trying to keep all options under consideration at this point until the race takes a clearer shape. The possibility definitely exists for a Democrat to advance to face a Republican who will be tied to Donald Trump in a state he may have failed to carry. That could make this race an immediate Tossup. Lieberman could appeal to moderates and disaffected suburban Republican types, while Warnock could benefit from a very large and energized black turnout in a state where that could make all the difference. However, if Trump were to be defeated nationwide, there will be more of a possibility for voters to pick a Republican (both here and/or in the other potential runoff) as a vote for divided government. I was prepared to call this Tossup (R), but the more I thought about it here caused me to go slightly in a different direction. That may change again before all is said and done.

If I absolutely had to make a guess, I would say that Collins narrowly finishes first statewide, with Warnock closely edging out Loeffler to advance to January. This would be a highly visible battle nationwide, but potential President-Elect Joe Biden does not wade too heavily into the waters, for fear of riling up angry Republicans, and because Georgia Republicans have still tended to win in the end (though perhaps Trump may taste defeat there himself), Collins pulls it off in the runoff, and Georgia gets a junior Senator to the right of the former incumbent, current incumbent, and everyone else who ran against him.

U.S. Senate races predicted thus far:

3 D (1 Safe, 2 Lean) 
5 R (1 Safe, 1 Likely, 2 Lean, 1 Tossup)

Total with predictions thus far:

38 Democrats (35 holdovers, 1 Safe, 2 Lean)
35 Republicans (30 holdovers, 1 Safe, 1 Likely, 2 Lean, 1 Tossup)

Monday, August 03, 2020

Race of the Day- Georgia U.S. Senate A

Georgia U.S. Senate A

92 Days Until Election Day

Status: Republican Incumbent
2016 Presidential Result: Red State (South)

Outlook: Tossup (R)

The Peach State is the one this year that will have two Senate elections, and both will be highly watched on Election Night. This is the more traditional regular election featuring a Republican incumbent seeking a second term, while the other race will be a jungle primary of sorts special election which will almost certainly require a January 5 runoff. That could feature a Democrat and a Republican or possibly two Republicans. The contest being discussed today will be mainly contested between a Democrat and a Republican. It may or may not also require a January 5 runoff if the winner does not receive 50 percent of the vote. Such a post-Presidential contest will take on dynamics all of its own.

Six years ago, wealthy businessman David Perdue, despite sharing a name with a cousin, who was the former Republican Governor of Georgia won nomination over more well-known primary opponents. He spent freely from his own pocket and criticized the others for mud slinging. Running  more as a private sector outsider than a staunch conservative, Perdue advanced to a runoff and then consolidated support to advance to November. The 2014 general election polls looked close, but in a good night for Republicans, Perdue won by a surprisingly large eight percent and there was no need for a runoff as the GOP as the party nationwide took control of the Senate. Perdue's cousin Sonny is now the Secretary of Agriculture and the Senator from Georgia has played up his relationship and "outsider" similarities to Donald Trump.

Now, as both seek reelection, Trump looks to be in a real battle in Georgia, as the state has made demographic changes that have tempted Democrats to look for a big breakthrough. While they have come close, they have yet to get that big statewide win. In fact, their nominee for Governor has not won since 2002 and the state has not sent a Democrat to the Senate since 1996.

One example of a recent "near miss" for the party occurred in a 2017 special Congressional election, in a district that had long been a GOP bastion, but had moved towards Democrats under Donald Trump with many upscale suburbanites. Nationally, the then 30 year old Jon Ossoff received much attention and raised a lot of money. The documentary filmmaker and former Congressional aide tried to burnish himself as a centrist of sorts but seemed to be painfully in the act of imitating the cadence and hand motions of Barack Obama. For a while it looked like he had a real chance of winning, but the race became nationalized and Republicans tied him to then Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. In what was a surprise to some, Ossoff lost 52-48. The female Republican who defeated him would then herself lose in the regular 2018 election to a Democrat in a more under the radar contest. She is now attempting a comeback herself.

Ossoff, who declined to run for the House seat again, has set his sights higher and is now his party's nominee for the U.S. Senate. Similar to Perdue, he outspent opponents and was able to capitalize by a lack of a political record to attack. With some bigger names sitting out this race, Ossoff faced the most competition from former Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson. Also in the race was Sarah Riggs Amico who was just coming off a statewide loss for Lt. Governor. Had a strong African-American candidate gotten into this particular race, they may have had a very good chance of winning, or at least forcing a primary runoff. Instead, those candidates looked towards the other seat in Georgia that is up this year. Ossoff was favored in this primary but many thought it would require a runoff. Nonetheless, he captured 53 percent of the vote in a high turnout. Tomlinson was far behind with 16 percent and Amico only mustered 12 percent. This was a break for Ossoff and the party to avoid the need to campaign further for the nomination and the general election was sent.

While the other Georgia Senate seat has much uncertainty about who if anyone among Democrats can advance to a runoff to face two possible Republicans, this contest has started to take shape. The polls look close although Perdue seems to have a lead of a couple of points or so. He generally does not get to the edge of 50 percent though. That is usually not a great sign for Republicans and Democrats are expected to be very energized in Georgia once again this cycle. Both nominees are wealthy but the parties will also spend heavily to try to sway this race. The Perdue campaign had to pull a recent ad which seemed to enlarge the nose of Ossoff. The Jewish challenger said this was a deliberate attempt to appeal to anti-Semitic stereotypes while Perdue placed the blame on an outside vendor and said it was unintentional.

It is worth noting that the incumbent is over 37 years older than his opponent, who would seemingly become the youngest member of the Senate. This is a true generational contrast and both nominees will try to paint the other as out of touch with the state. Clearly, more white suburbanites (especially from outside the South), as well as growing populations of African-Americans and Latinos have made Georgia less Republican than it was say ten years ago. Will that be enough to oust an incumbent? I think Perdue has weaknesses as a candidate and Ossoff comes close, but does not quite pull it off. Georgia still has plenty of conservatives after all.

Right now, the race looks like a Tossup, but there are many factors to take into consideration. If this goes all the way to a January runoff, the results of the Presidential race (even if there is not a formal concession) will have a role to play. If Donald Trump is reelected, Ossoff might benefit from the desire to elect someone to oppose hm. If Joe Biden defeats Trump though, and especially if the Senate already has gone Democrat at this point, there will be less motivation for Democrats and more of a push for Perdue to serve as one of the Republican "checks and balances."

Georgia Republicans are clearly all in on Donald Trump and by extension of that have lost some voters in the suburbs or the ideological middle that might otherwise be there. Whether Ossoff can win enough of them remains to be seen, but this should not be as much of a contest as it currently is.

U.S. Senate races predicted thus far:

3 D (1 Safe, 2 Lean) 
4 R (1 Safe, 1 Likely, 1 Lean, 1 Tossup)

Total with predictions thus far:

38 Democrats (35 holdovers, 1 Safe, 2 Lean)
34 Republicans (30 holdovers, 1 Safe, 1 Likely, 1 Lean, 1 Tossup)

Sunday, August 02, 2020

Race of the Day- Delaware U.S. Senate

Delaware U.S. Senate

93 Days Until Election Day

Status: Democrat Incumbent
2016 Presidential Result: Blue State (East)

Outlook: Safe Democrat

The race in Delaware for U.S. Senate will be a lower profile event across the nation and in the state, even as the man who used to occupy this seat will be his party's Presidential nominee.

Incumbent Chris Coons had his share of luck to be elected to this seat, in a state where a Republican has not won a Senate contest since 1994. That was expected by many to change in 2010. The seat was open in a special election. Joe Biden had easily won another term in 2008, but was also elected Vice President on that day. A former Biden staffer was named to hold the seat until the 2010 special election. The state's at large Republican Congressman Michael Castle was favored to pick up the seat, especially since then state Attorney General Beau Biden was not running. Castle had long been a fixture in the state's politics and held just about every political post except U.S. Senator. Democrats nominated Coons, a county executive, who was thought of as a credible candidate, but an underdog to the better known Castle.

The 2010 primary produced a surprise though, and a foretelling of future internal issues within the GOP. Castle, a moderate, was defeated in the primary by conservative activist Christine O'Donnell, who had lost by a wide margin to Biden two years earlier. Suddenly, this race became all but a slam dunk for Coons and the Democrats as O'Donnell was forced to run an infamous ad in which she reassured voters she was not a witch.

Coons was elected to a full term by a solid margin in 2014 and is now heavily favored to win again in a very Democrat leaning state. This time though, he is the one facing a more ideological female primary opponent. Business consultant Jessica Scarane is criticizing the incumbent for being too willing to work with Republicans and to cut deals. In many ways, those attacks echo what O'Donnell had said a decade ago about Castle. The primary is coming up next month though and there are no signs that Coons is vulnerable here. I happen to think that Coons ability to work across the aisle and behind the scenes might actually put him in place to have an influential role if he wishes in the Administration of Joe Biden, assuming the fellow Delawarean is elected. I would not be surprised to see Coons become Chief of Staff to Biden. If that happens, and assuming Delaware's Democrat Governor is reelected, another member of the party would be named to take the seat, and there would be another special election in two years. There is not much reason to believe Republicans would be much of a threat right now in the state.

There are two Republicans vying in September to take on Coons. Both portray themselves as supporters of Donald Trump in a state he is going to lose badly, but one is particularly associated with his brand of populist politics. Lauren Witzke is a young activist who heavily plays up her love of Trump and has been active in such causes as immigration restrictions. Her biography also she is a former opioid addict who became involved in gang related drug trade. She seems to cite the election of Trump as being a force in helping her turn her life around. The young blonde may have been a gangbanger of sorts but there is no accusation that she was a dark-haired witch.

Having a bit of a more traditional background is the Republican who overwhelmingly received the recent party convention endorsement. Jim DeMartino is an attorney and Marine veteran who in the last two cycles lost races for State Representative. He will probably win the primary, but one never knows.

Whomever emerges will have a tough time against Coons who might total his largest margin yet, even as conservatives and left-wing activists alike express displeasure with him.

U.S. Senate races predicted thus far:

3 D (1 Safe, 2 Lean) 
3 R (1 Safe, 1 Likely, 1 Lean)

Total with predictions thus far:

38 Democrats (35 holdovers, 1 Safe, 2 Lean)
33 Republicans (30 holdovers, 1 Safe, 1 Likely, 1 Lean)

Saturday, August 01, 2020

Race for the White House # 83

94 Days Until Election Day

This upcoming week, we are supposed to know whom Joe Biden has selected to run with him as Vice President. Maybe. Sometime within the next two weeks though. Throughout American history, only a relative handful of people who had been Vice President have had this particular decision to make. It is somewhat unknown just how the final interviews will be conducted and if Biden will be able to conduct them in person due to our social distancing (or socialist distancing as this case may be to some.) In previous cycles, reporters might be staked out at the Biden home in Delaware or the activities of the various frontrunners would be closely watched.

The job seems like one worth having. For one thing, Biden is ahead of Donald Trump in the polls and even if the general public is not yet totally sold that on the possibility of Trump losing, most "insiders", including Republicans expect the incumbent to lose. That would make the person selected Vice President, and in this case, historically, the highest serving woman in the history of the United States government.

Then, there is the fact that Biden is nearly 78 years old. Even if he serves out his term as President, he would be 81 at the time of the next campaign and not a lot of people expect that he would actually run at that advanced age. Nonetheless, Biden seems to think he would. However, if the spot at the top of the ticket is open, an incumbent Vice President would seem to have a lot of support within the party in regards to 2024.

Last week I talked about several of the possible women Biden is looking over. (If this were Tinder, he would have to "swipe left" though.) In some regards it sound like a decision to be made off a restaurant menu. Duck(worth) or Bass? Include a side of Rice? We can understand that the jockeying is well under way within the various political camps of these ladies. Yesterday afternoon, a story broke that 10 years ago, Karen Bass, who has emerged as a surprise finalist, spoke at the opening of the big Scientology "church" opening in Los Angeles and was effusive in praise of Scientologists, a religious group that many people, including former members regards as a dangerous cult. Bass has said that she herself is not an adherent of the religion, but was speaking in general terms. A lot of people are now saying this all but rules out Bass. Where did this video clip suddenly come from?

If I had to guess, I would say that Kamala Harris is the most likely person to be selected. At a recent speech, Biden had visible talking points in which he was prepared to defend against the allegations of a rift between the two. Still, people associated with Biden, such as former Senator Chris Dodd, who has a role in this selection process, are said to believe that Harris is too ambitious and showed no remorse over basically accusing Biden of being a segregationist on the decades old school busing issue.. decades ago. She was said to even laugh and say "that's politics." It indeed may be, but I do not think it is a good thing for our current political system if so. She basically called Biden a racist in a planned attack, without actually meaning it, but just believing that the ends might justify the means. I think that is part of the political environment that helped produce Donald Trump and enables him to this day. Ultimately, it will be up to Joe and Jill Biden as to if they can look past this, but I would not blame them if they are upset at Harris. If not the California Senator, or the California Congresswoman with the new Scientology problem, maybe Susan Rice? She only has a son who was a vocal Trump supporter and nobody in the Democrat Party is going to ever have an issue with that, right?

This election is being held in 94 days no matter what Trump does to stir up confusion or any claim that he could possibly delay it. Many have always said this is a card he would eventually play, and with horrible economic news that came out on Thursday, he was quick to drop this bomb on Twitter. He seems to be deliberately claiming that "absentee ballots" which he has used before and plans to use again this November is different than "mail in voting." They really are not. More people voting by mail in ballots may indeed bring up some legitimate concerns, but during a pandemic, we probably have to be more accepting of the reality and take steps to mitigate potential issues. The more Trump casts doubts on the entire process, the less likely his supporters may be to use that way to vote and besides hurting him, the down ballot result on other Republicans could be pretty bad. Plus, it just seems now like Trump may be throwing in the towel by claiming the election will be "rigged." This statement was roundly criticized or dismissed across the board, even among usual Trump apologists in Congress. We can be sure he will re-vist it again though.

Other big events this week were a circus like House Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in which politicians from both sides pretended to question Attorney General Bill Barr, but instead mostly  just made partisan soundbites for their respective bases. Republicans continue to try to target Dr. Anthony Fauci on the Coronavirus, seemingly only because the very existence of this disease and the effects on our economy are somehow a reminder of the current bad times under Trump.

Then, there was the week of events that made up the funeral for the late Congressman John Lewis. At Ebeneezer Baptist Church, moments of incredibly moving tributes and music were interspersed with partisan political attacks. Former Presidents Bill Clinton (who also faced some potentially bad headlines this week on another matter)  and George W. Bush also spoke, but it was former President Barack Obama who spoke at the most length and most force. Democrats loves it and backers of Trump were quite upset. This is a sign though that Obama clearly wants part of his legacy to be helping in the defeat of Trump and he is likely to be more visible than he has down the stretch of this campaign trying to get his former Vice President over the finish line.

For now, many supporters of Trump still do not believe the polls that he is losing. Yes, polls have been wrong before, but in the case of an incumbent whom everyone has already made their mind up over, it is hard to see how things will change. Trump's heavily paid campaign brass, including a recent shift at the top job, are telling him that the polls will improve after Labor Day. If they do not though, and a sizable defeat appears on the horizon, Trump does not seem like the kind of person who would think of other candidates down the ballot and their need to protect their own election hopes. Trump will care nothing of them nor their political fate.

Friday, July 31, 2020

Race of the Day- Delaware Governor

Delaware Governor

95 Days Until Election Day

Status: Democrat Incumbent
2016 Presidential Result: Blue State (East)

Outlook: Likely Democrat

I cannot claim to know a whole bunch about what is going on in this race. The Democrat incumbent should win. The state is pretty reliable for his party. The state has not elected a Republican to the post of Governor in 30 years and this cycle will see favorite son Joe Biden at the top of the national ticket. Still, these are pretty unprecedented times in terms of virus concerns, a devastated economy, and lack of confidence in government. Absent any polling data to this point, and still about a month and a half before the primaries in the state are held, I will be extra cautious and categorize this as Likely over Safe. It may very well turn into a complete blowout, but at least a challenger will have a lot to talk about in regards to wanting change.

John Carney's path to the top job in his state was not necessarily an easy one. The Democrat first became Lt. Governor in the year 2000. Eight years later, he was the choice of party insiders for the job as Governor but suffered a surprising primary defeat. He was able to find some solace two years later being elected to Congress from the state at large. Six years after that, when the job of Governor was again available, and with former state Attorney General Beau Biden having passed away, Carney was seen as the easy choice. He would go on to easily defeat Colin Bonini, a state Senator who had run statewide for Treasurer in 2010 by a 58-39 margin. This year, he is facing nominal primary opposition from an African-American opponent.

Four years later, as Carney seeks reelection, Bonini is seeking a rematch. The GOP bench in Delaware is not considered very deep. He is considered a mainstream credible candidate but faces an uphill battle if once again nominated. Bonini has to first get past a Republican primary. He faces five other candidates. Some of them appear to be sort of gadflyish, but fellow State Senator Bryant Richardson is also part of the field and seems to perhaps be to Bonini's right. The winner of the recent statewide Republican convention though, which I imagine was a virtual event, was attorney Julianne Murray. My sense is that conservative activists may feel like they have the most in common with her. For all I know though, one of the candidates I am not even naming here will go on to capture the nomination in September.

Whomever emerges as the Republican challenger will go after Carney as it relates to his stewardship over the state's economy as well as his handling of Covid 19. (Perhaps ironically, it was Carney's statewide "stay at home" order that kept Joe Biden in his basement for several weeks which helped him solidify his current national lead.) While many in the state could be receptive to a change message, especially after decades of one party rule in the Governorship, any Democrat in Delaware will benefit from one of their own being nominated for President for the first time.

Governor races predicted thus far: 
1 D (1 Likely)
0 R

Total with predictions thus far:

21 Democrats (20 holdovers, 1 Likely)
19 Republicans (19 holdovers)

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Race of the Day- Colorado U.S. Senate

Colorado U.S. Senate

96 Days Until Election Day

Status: Republican Incumbent
2016 Presidential Result: Blue State (West)

Outlook: Leans Democrat

A very satisfying Republican pickup in 2014 is now looking like the political pendulum may be swinging back to the other side in a very purple state that is becoming more blue.

Six years ago, Cory Gardner, a young Republican Congressman from the rural part of the state was recruited to run for the Senate against incumbent Democrat Mark Udall. The feeling was that Udall would have little trouble dispatching the other Republicans that wanted to run against him, but that Gardner was politically skilled enough to give him a real race. At first, the Republican said he intended to remain in his safe House seat, but apparently some statewide polling data gave him the impetus to jump into the contest against Udall fairly late in the game. The Republican Party largely cleared the field and a top battleground race unfolded. Udall tried to paint Gardner as "anti-woman" and ran heavily on wedge cultural issues.The voters seemed to care more about the economy than abortion though in many states that cycle and Udall was criticized for being too single minded in his attacks. On Election Night, Gardner did what he did to win his House seat as well, defeating an incumbent Democrat, this time by a 48-46 margin.

Gardner's political future looked bright but like many mainstream Republicans in competitive states and districts, he would soon have Donald Trump on his hands to deal with. At times, Senator Gardner has taken issue with Trump on some policy matters and during national firestorms, such as the reaction to the riots in Charlottesville, but mostly he has supported the President's position on issues and has been careful not to run too afoul of the MAGA people in the party.

Considering the fact that Colorado has trended Democrat in recent years, even somewhat before Trump came along, many in the party felt that they could make Gardner a one term Senator. A slew of Democrats lined up to oppose him, just like many Republicans had wanted to take on Gardner. The Colorado election process has a complex system of caucuses and straw polls and conventions, and many felt the whole thing could become a mess and help Gardner by the time an eventual winner emerged. Much like the desire to recruit the now incumbent into the race by Republicans six years ago, Democrats also wanted to clear the field for a reluctant politician who would be their strongest best.

John Hickenlooper has always been an executive and did not seem keen over the prospects of serving in a deliberative body. He went from being an entrepreneur and business executive to Mayor of Denver to the two term Governor of Colorado. After being term limited out of that office, "Hick" sent his sights on the White House. The former Governor announced in March of 2019 that he would seek the Democrat nomination for President. The field was massive though and Hickenlooper was perhaps seen as too moderate, too white, and too non-dynamic to be a real factor. Many of the people he would have counted on for support were on board with Joe Biden. Furthermore, one of Colorado's Senators was also running for the nomination, but he had some of the same problems as Hickenlooper.

So, many in the party nationally though that perhaps Hickenlooper and fellow candidate Michael Bennet should serve in the Senate together from Colorado. Going nowhere in the Presidential race, the former Governor withdrew by August and immediately it was clear that a deal had been worked out where Hickenlooper would run for the Senate. This excited Democrats nationally and like the situation for Gardner six years ago, the field was largely cleared for him.

Still, he faced a primary against a candidate more popular with liberal activists. Andrew Romanoff was a former State House Speaker (before Hickenlooper was Governor) and had sought the party's nomination for the Senate in 2010 against the then appointed Bennet. In 2014, he also lost a competitive Congressional general election. Hickenlooper was first expected to win easily, but seemingly ran into problems in the latter stages of the primary when video clips emerged from a past statement where he lamely had joked about slavery and was had to apologize. Furthermore, the frontrunner came under fire for ethics violations when he was Governor involving gifts. Hickenlooper called the allegations a "smear" and at first refused to cooperate with the commission, but after the ethics commission was about to hold him in contempt, he testified and ultimately had to pay a fine.

At this time, many on the right thought that Hickenlooper's Senate campaign was perhaps permanently damaged or that he might lose the primary. Some wondered whether it would be better for Gardner to face Romanoff instead or a weakened Hickenlooper. However, he won the June primary by a wider than expected 59-41 margin. Clearly, enough Colorado Democrats were unconcerned about these problems. Hickenlooper has mostly been a well liked Governor and the motivation was high to vote in November against a GOP incumbent.

I think this race is not a done deal, but the polls have shown a lead for Hickenlooper. Gardner is a skilled politician and might try to make hay by hammering away at Hickenlooper's recent ethical woes and the Republican will certainly do well in the conservative areas of the state. However, Colorado also has very liberal Denver and some other left-leaning bastions. The once Republican leaning suburban areas, like many other similar ones throughout the country have turned away from Trump and his party. Right now, in this election year, that seems like it could be enough.

U.S. Senate races predicted thus far:

2 D (2 Lean) 
3 R (1 Safe, 1 Likely, 1 Lean)

Total with predictions thus far:

37 Democrats (35 holdovers, 2 Lean)
33 Republicans (30 holdovers, 1 Safe, 1 Likely, 1 Lean)

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Race of the Day- Arkansas U.S. Senate

Arkansas U.S. Senate

97 Days Until Election Day

Status: Republican Incumbent
2016 Presidential Result: Red State (South)

Outlook: Safe Republican

At one point, even as the south was moving towards the GOP, Democrats still held a tremendous amount of power in Arkansas. The post Clinton years though have seen a dramatic shift and the state party is now about as weak as anywhere in the country. Republicans dominate the state and this year, the Senate race may literally be no contest.

Democrats simply will not have a candidate on the ballot for this office. A non-profit executive named Josh Mahony, who got blown out in a 2018 Congressional race, was supposed to be the party's statewide sacrificial lamb, but he decided last November not to bother. Allegedly, the campaign of GOP incumbent Tom Cotton had some opposition research on him, that they held until after the filing deadline. This meant that Democrats would be unable to replace him as a candidate. If true, surely a function of hardball politics, but that is the way the game is played.

Some on the left have decided to support liberal activist Dan Whitfield, who is running as an Independent. He stands no chance of winning this race, but also may not be able to make it to the ballot. His efforts to collect signatures to appear on the November ballot have been complicated due to the pandemic. Whitfield's case is currently under appeal in the federal court system, so it remains to be seen if he will be an option. If not, those who want to vote against Cotton can always go Libertarian.

There may be a lot of Arkansans who would like the chance to vote against Cotton and many others throughout the country as the freshman Senator has recently become quite a lightning rod. He happens to have a very impressive biography though and at the age of 43 clearly has high ambitions set for himself. Cotton grew up in rural Arkansas and graduated from Harvard with honors. After law school at the same university, he set aside a promising legal career to enlist in the Army. He said he had decided to one day fight in combat while watching the 9/11 terrorist attacks unfold. He spent five years in active service, including Iraq and Afghanistan and received such medals as the Bronze Star.

He first gained attention in political circles during his military career when he wrote a letter to the New York Times that was highly critical of them regarding espionage laws. Ironically, an op-Ed he would publish as a Senator in the New York Times regarding using the military to put down violent protests became highly controversial in 2020 and led to much consternation in the paper over whether or not it should have been printed.

Some first wanted Cotton to run for the Senate in 2010, but he decided to wait. In 2014 however he won election to the U.S. House. Upon arriving as a freshman, the pressure continued for him to run statewide and he decided to challenge two term incumbent Democrat Mark Pryor, the scion of a famous political family in the state. The 2014 election was not even close. It was a GOP year and Arkansas was not fond of the policies of Barack Obama. Cotton unseated the incumbent by over 17 points. On the trail, his intellect and drive were noted, but many also commented that he was somewhat aloof and did not exactly have the warm image of a backslapping pol.

Considering his long-held views on foreign policy, it was somewhat surprising when Cotton emerged as a close ally of the isolationist Donald Trump. At times, Cotton has been mentioned for various high ranking Trump Administration positions, including the top job at the Pentagon, but he seems to be thinking his current post will be a better launching spot for the post-Trump years. He has also made a name for himself as one of the Senate top advocates of limiting legal immigration, a position that is shared by many fans of Trump.

With his Senate reelection all but reassured, many expect that Cotton is planning to jump into the 2024 Republican Presidential fray. While some look at someone like his Senate colleague Ted Cruz as being somewhat disingenuous or political, Cotton is viewed as a true believer. He would stand to perhaps be one of the candidates who can best claim the mantle of Trumpism. Just how popular will Trumpism still be in the party or in the country though after this current election? Also, it is hard to see how comfortable Cotton may be, post-pandemic, introducing himself to small groups of voters in Iowa and New Hampshire as tradition dictates. Then again, Iowa is probably done for thanks to the Democrats.

Recently, Cotton has advocated using the military to put down protests and has made some odd comments about slavery having been viewed by the Founding Fathers as a "necessary evil." While I do not think that remark is indicative of Cotton approving the practice of slavery, he sure did seem to minimize the moral damage it did to the country.

There is much to admire about Cotton's pre-Congressional career and when he first ran for the Senate, I imagined he would be one of the lawmakers I most often agreed with. Times have changed though and I hope the GOP will not be going further in his direction the next time the Presidency is on the line.

U.S. Senate races predicted thus far:

1 D (1 Lean) 
3 R (1 Safe, 1 Likely, 1 Lean)

Total with predictions thus far:

36 Democrats (35 holdovers, 1 Lean)
33 Republicans (30 holdovers, 1 Safe, 1 Likely, 1 Lean)

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Race of the Day- Arizona U.S. Senate

Arizona U.S. Senate

98 Days Until Election Day

Status: Republican Incumbent
2016 Presidential Result: Red State (West)

Outlook: Leans Democrat

The political sands have shifted quick in Arizona. For thirty years, no Democrat had won a U.S. Senate seat in the Grand Canyon State. That changed in 2018 and now the party stands on the edge of winning both of the Senate seats in consecutive cycles. Even more noteworthy is that the same Republican candidate may lose both races. Two very different Republicans are most responsible for this present reality. Donald Trump and John McCain.

McCain was elected six times to the Senate from Arizona and rose to legendary political status in the state and much recognition around America, especially as his party's Presidential nominee in 2008. In the later years of his career, McCain had gained the enmity of many on the right wing of his party both nationally and at home, but still managed to fend off primary challengers and attempts by the Democrats to unseat him.

In 2016, McCain won reelection by 13 points in a contest Democrats had once thought they had a chance of flipping while Donald Trump carried the traditionally Republican state by just three points. McCain was one of many Arizona Republicans who did not vote for Trump after a period of some back and forth earlier in the cycle. Not long after becoming an official candidate, Trump had insulted McCain's reputation of being an American hero because of his service in the military and status as a prisoner of war for several years. Some thought this would cost Trump any chance he had in the election, but that proved to not be the case.

The bad blood between McCain and Trump continued with the new year but not that long into it, McCain was given a diagnosis of advanced brain cancer. This did nothing to improve the McCain-Trump relationship and in one of his final official actions, the Senator cast the deciding vote on a specific effort to repeal Obamacare. McCain lost his battle with cancer in 2018 and Trump continued to be very publicly clear that he disliked McCain and has even taken shots at him in death.

Some ghoulish anti-McCain voices in the party were calling for the Senator to resign while battling cancer but he did not do so. After his death, Arizona's GOP Governor Doug Ducey decided not to rile Trump and others by appointing McCain's widow Cindy to the seat but instead picked respected former U.S. Senator Jon Kyl as a caretaker for the seat. In the meantime, the GOP primary for the state's other seat had been underway.

Senator Jeff Flake, once a conservative stalwart, had been among the most open anti-Trump voices in the party and it was clear he could not win reelection after having fallen out of favor in the newly styled Republican Party. Two staunch controversial allies of Trump were running to replace him but the party's frontrunner was Congresswoman Martha McSally, a former Air Force pilot considered a political rising star. This was despite the fact that she had lost a competitive Tuscon area House race in 2012 before winning the seat in 2014.

At one point, McSally had considered McCain to be a political mentor and she had joined him in 2016 by publicly not supporting the Trump candidacy. With statewide ambitions though and a potential tough primary approaching, she changed directions and embraced the new President politically. At the signing of a bill named after McCain at which Trump appeared at the ceremony, she took steps to not even mention McCain's name in order to not upset Trump. When the Senator passed away, her statement was somewhat perfunctory as compared to other politicians on both sides of the aisle.

When all was said and done, McSally won the 2018 primary for the Senate by more than 2-1. Her opponents were viewed as unelectable by many. One has to wonder if she would have probably still won even if she had not taken that many steps towards Trumpism. It was a relatively short general election though and the party was not quick to unite behind her. She found herself facing House colleague Kirsten Sinema. whom despite having a somewhat  moderate House record had a past as a young woman active in left-wing causes.

The campaign between the two women was fairly nasty. During one debate, McSally used the term "treason" to describe the actions of Sinema during the time after the 9/11 attacks and contrasted that to her own military record. Many voters thought McSally went too far. In a race she had been expected to win, and in which she led on Election Night, the final tally had her losing to Sinema by about two points. A new Democrat had been elected to the Senate from Arizona for the first since the 1970s. Many moderate Republicans in the state, or those who felt loyalty to McCain crossed party lines and supported the Democrat. It is also likely true that some right-wing opponents of McSally sat the race out.

McSally graciously excepted defeat, perhaps because she knew that the other Arizona Senate seat would be up in the next cycle via special election. At this point, the interim Senator Kyl did what he said he might do, and resigned early. Ducey then had another appointment, and he picked McSally, the woman who had just lost a close Senate election, giving her a head start for a 2020 race. Thus, both Sinema and McSally would be headed from the House to Senate.

While McSally has won plaudits for her candor in discussing her experience as a sexual assault survivor during her time in the military, she has not been seen as taking too many steps to make amends with the McCain wing of the party. Trump has been fairly unpopular in Arizona, and McSally has been hurt by being seen as too close to him politically. A few months back, with television cameras rolling, and in what appeared to be a scripted response, she refused to answer a question from a CNN reporter and referred to him as a "liberal hack." While she is facing a primary challenge next week against a wealthy opponent, she is not expected to lose that. She does after all have Trump's endorsement was well as other more establishment GOP figures. Next Tuesday might feel like a hallow victory for the new Senator though as she is seen as a clear underdog for the general election.

The Democrats happen to have a strong candidate in Mark Kelly, a well known former astronaut (he happens to also have a twin brother who has spent much time with NASA in space) with a military background. The party field was cleared for the first time candidate, who is not exactly a stranger to Congress. In 2007, the previously divorced Kelly, who was living in Texas and perhaps considered himself a Republican (McSally had a marriage annulled in the late '90s), married Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, a politically promising young Democrat from Arizona. In early 2011, she was nearly killed by a deranged gunman who targeted her at a constituent meet and greet.

Somewhat miraculously, Giffords survived and embarked on a long rehabilitation. While she was able to return to Congress, it was clear that her injuries were such that she could no longer effectively serve, even as many were continuing to talk up the possibility that Giffords could run for the Senate. Her seat was first won by her Chief of Staff, who had also survived being shot that day. That Congressman won the tough race against McSally in 2012 before being unseated by her in 2014.

Kelly was seen as the devoted husband who helped his wife through the ordeal and who served as her caretaker. Many began to now talk about him as a potential candidate in Arizona, but he demurred. Both Giffords and Kelly became associated with gun control measures although not exclusively affiliated with Democrat candidates.

Many Democrats were pleasantly surprised when Kelly jumped into the 2020 Senate race, despite not knowing a lot about his political beliefs, beyond gun control measures, which might be a risky issue in Arizona. Kelly has tried to portray himself as a mainstream Democrat in his first campaign, but his efforts thus far have seemingly been more about biography and less on issues. The one time astronaut has also raised an astronomical amount of money from around the country. The fact is that Trump has fallen out of favor in Arizona, and many former or disaffected Republicans, particular upscale voters in Maricopa County are now far more open to supporting a Democrat seen as a moderate. That is what helped Sinema in 2018, even as the same cycle saw a more liberal Democrat lose by a solid margin to Governor Ducey, who paid more public respect to the McCain family than McSally had done.

Right now, amid the Covid 19 pandemic and a recent spike in Arizona, Trump and his party have even more political problems. Recent polls have started to show a single digit lead for Kelly over McSally now growing to double digits. Certainly, something has to change if she wants to hold the seat and not suffer the indignity of losing two Senate races in two cycles and losing races for both Arizona Senate seats. At one point in time, McSally, by virtue of her biography and political positioning looked like one of the fastest rising stars in the entire GOP. Then Trump came along though. There also just may be something about her that just does not click with the electorate. Neither candidate in this race grew up in Arizona, but that is not at all uncommon there. For now, and before a primary vote is held, I am being cautious by classifying this race involving a Republican incumbent as "Leans Democrat."

McSally might have a chance if she can somehow find a way to make Kelly appear unready for the Senate by lack of knowledge of issues or if she can somehow prove he has views that are too far to the left. She tried that tact against Sinema though last time and it backfired on her. Kelly does not have a record to attack and whatever vulnerabilities he might have for some on the 2nd Amendment might just remind voters of how he has cared for his permanently disabled wife after her near assassination.

Democrats got a huge break when Kelly got into this race and this seems like it is now his race to lose. Still, the only recent victory for Democrats in a statewide federal race there was a close one in a strong Democrat year overall. It sure looks though like the Republican is about to lose again this year in Arizona, for reasons largely attributed to Donald Trump, and he may lose there with her.

U.S. Senate races predicted thus far:

1 D (1 Lean)
2 R (1 Likely, 1 Lean)

Total with predictions thus far:

36 Democrats (35 holdovers, 1 Lean)
32 Republicans (30 holdovers, 1 Likely, 1 Lean)

Monday, July 27, 2020

Race of the Day- Alaska U.S. Senate

Alaska U.S. Senate

99 Days Until Election Day

Status: Republican Incumbent
2016 Presidential Result: Red State (West)

Outlook: Likely Republican

Six years ago, Republican Dan Sullivan had to overcome a competitive three way primary, general election confusion with another candidate with the exact same name sharing the ballot as the party's Lt. Governor nominee, and ultimately a victory over a Democrat incumbent.

Republicans who go to Capitol Hill from Alaska tend to stick around a while. In his first term, Sullivan has not been very visible on a national scale. He is thought of as someone very different than Donald Trump both in terms of personality and on some major issues, yet he has of course been very wary to be too critical of the leader of the party. This year, Sullivan and Trump will have to share a ballot and for that reason, many think this could be a sleeper race. I tend to think that this incumbent will have at least a slightly easier path to victory than 2014 when he  unseated freshman Democrat Mark Begich 48 percent to 46 percent.

Begich declined an uphill attempt to reclaim his seat this cycle. He had suffered an additional loss two years ago as his party's nominee for Governor.  Sullivan, who has proven to be less controversial within his party than his senior college Lisa Murkowski is also not facing a primary challenge. Still some feel he that with his low profile, the first time officeholder might be somewhat vulnerable. Democrats are probably focused more on their long standing and ultimately unsuccessful efforts to defeat the state's long-time polarizing at large House member.

Interestingly enough, there is a law in place in Alaska that allows non-party members to be listed a such on a primary ballot and still be nominated. This year, for both the Senate and House race, Democrats seem to be lined up behind candidates who are technically Independents, despite the fact that others will be on the August primary ballot as Democrats. This is similar to how they turned away from their official nominee for Governor and backed an Independent instead in a race they wound up winning on the day that Sullivan won his Senate election.

Democrat Edgar Blatchford is running for the Senate, as he did in 2016, and his resume includes a stint at the Mayor of Seward and as a commissioner in state government. However, he is considered pretty much an afterthought as state and national Democrats have lined up behind Independent Al Gross who is making his first bid for office. As far as I know, nobody named Gross has ever won a statewide election (while many Sullivans have succeeded in politics) so he will have to for one thing overcome a difficult ballot name.

This particular Gross has an interesting biography. The adage goes that Jewish-Americans tend to be adverse to fishing and hunting, but this one has been a commercial fisherman in Alaska. He also once allegedly killed a grizzly bear in self defense. Hailing from a prominent family in Alaska, Gross is an orthopedic surgeon who is running this Senate campaign with the title "Dr." prominently featured.

Gross has succeeded in raising an impressive amount of money in this campaign and a Democrat sponsored poll this month puts him within shouting distance from Sullivan, albeit with many undecided voters. The thing about Alaska polling though, is that due to the remoteness of large parts of the state, it might be harder to poll than anywhere in the lower 48 and Republicans tend to do better on Election Day than they do in polls. That same poll showed Donald Trump with an even smaller lead on Joe Biden in the state.

If national Republicans truly become concerned about Sullivan, you can expect them to pour in financial resources to thus not take anything for granted. Recently, amid the Covid 19 pandemic, a Sullivan fundraiser in Alaska was interrupted by a protestor rushing the stage with a bloody caribou heart. Dare I say, that sounds a bit "gross?"

If this race winds up being very close, it will be heavily watched at the wee hours of the morning on Election Night and probably for days to weeks afterwards. That would be very bad news for Republicans though. While Gross may have an appeal to some in the state, any federal incumbent Republican, not recently convicted of a felony, is still probably going to win statewide.

U.S. Senate races predicted thus far:

0 D
2 R (1 Likely, 1 Lean)

Total with predictions thus far:

35 Democrats (35 holdovers)
32 Republicans (30 holdovers, 1 Likely, 1 Lean)

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Race of the Day- Alabama U.S. Senate

Alabama U.S. Senate

100 Days Until Election Day

Status: Democrat Incumbent
2016 Presidential Result: Red State (South)

Outlook: Leans Republican

It would be hard to find any Senate seat in the country that involve as many twists and turns over the past five years than this particular one in Alabama. Indeed, it is the only one this cycle in which Republicans have a decent shot of flipping a seat. The GOP is clearly counting on a victory here in one of their strongest states to mitigate against the loss of seats elsewhere in the country in the hopes of somehow maintaining a Senate majority.

This story really began early in 2016 when popular four term Republican Jeff Sessions became the first U.S. Senator to endorse Donald Trump for President. The two men, who shared an ideological kinship on fighting illegal immigration and being quite skeptical about legal immigration as well, campaigned together throughout the primaries and general election. Sessions had a seemingly permanent hold on his Senate seat, but he was rewarded by Trump by being nominated for Attorney General, where he was expected to be a very polarizing figure. At the time, Alabama had an embattled GOP Governor who would eventually resign upon a criminal conviction, but before that, he appointed state Attorney General Luther Strange to fill the Senate vacancy. There were questions about just when a special election would need to be held, but little doubt at the time that Republicans would hold it in this solidly conservative southern state.

In the meantime, as Sessions went about vigorously defending Trump Administration policy at Justice, he ran afoul of the President on a very important matter. He saw the very obvious need to recuse himself from any portion of oversight of the FBI's investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election. After all, Sessions had been a top Trump surrogate in this campaign and had some contacts with the Russians himself. Legally, he had no other choice but to step aside on this matter, but Trump saw things differently. Simply put, he had expected Session to make it all "go away", but instead the motion was sent in place which would quickly lead to a special counsel and a very intensive investigation. While Trump himself was ultimately cleared on conspiracy and obstruction allegations, largely by technicalities, his actions as it related to Ukraine in a somewhat related way would come to light and lead to him becoming the third ever President to be impeached. Trump was acquitted in the Senate, largely by partisan lines, but by this point, there was an Alabama Democrat who voted to convict him.

This surprising situation occurred because Republicans lost the special election in Alabama in late  2017. The appointment of Strange became controversial and even though he was backed by Trump, he faced serious opposition for the seat in the Republican primary. Some even speculated that Sessions, who was out of favor as Attorney General, might try to make things easier for his party by making a quick return to the Senate, but that was not to be. Instead, Strange would finish second in the first round behind controversial social conservative Roy Moore, whom twice had been ousted as State Supreme Court Chief Justice. In the runoff, Moore beat Strange outright and by then many were concerned that the seat was now in danger.

Democrats had easily nominated Doug Jones, a left leaning former U.S. Attorney. He had first gained attention in the state in the 1990s for the successful prosecution of Klan members for historically notorious terrorist acts that had taken place over thirty years earlier in the state. He was seen as a credible candidate for his party but not as someone whom had a realistic shot of winning. That was until Roy Moore emerged as the Republican nominee.

Already very polarizing, Moore suddenly became the target of media stories about his past as a bachelor in which he had years earlier had a history of preying on teenage girls. Moore denied wrongdoing but was not able to sufficiently tamper the stories. Clearly, he had done some things in his past that he did not want the public to know about and the perception of Moore as a "pedophile" began to grow. Republicans put on a full court press to get him to exit the race, in one such scenario he would be replaced by Sessions, but Moore stubbornly refused to step down. With that in mind, some in the party, including Trump himself, refused to withdraw support for Moore. Democrats were now extra motivated and many Republican voters in the suburbs joined them in either voting for Jones or by writing in a different Republican. The end result was a two point win by Jones and a pickup for Democrats for a seat they basically had no business in winning.

While the victory of Jones was seen as a bit of a political fluke, the fact is that he earned the right to be a Senator through the regularly scheduled 2020 election. Trump continued to lash out at Sessions in very personal terms over the sense of personal betrayal he felt by his ally, in the hopes that Sessions would quit. He would not do so though, only to be fired by Trump the day after the 2018 midterms.

As a Senator, Jones has tried to take a middle ground on some matters, but has largely sided with his party. He has seemingly always known he would be an underdog to win a full term, and was under significant pressure perhaps to not vote to convict Trump in the impeachment trial in a state where such a vote would be disapproved of, but he stood with his party on that matter.

Considering the political nature of Alabama, numerous Republicans lined up to take on Jones for this year's contest. The list included Roy Moore himself. Clearly such a re-run of the special election would be a gift from heaven for the Jones campaign, but that did not come to be, as many in the party were clear on opposing him and thus Moore finished with just 7 percent in the first round primary.

Congressman Bradley Byrne had given up a safe seat to seek the Senate nomination, but he would ultimately finish in third place with 25 percent of the vote. The second place finisher in the initial primary was none other than Jeff Sessions, the erstwhile former Attorney General and longtime holder of the seat. Many in the state had encouraged Sessions to make a comeback and he led in early polls. This did not please Donald Trump, whom made it very clear that his former Attorney General remained a much reviled figure in his mind. Sessions claimed he was right to recluse himself on Russia, but otherwise embarked on a strategy to try to hug Trump as tightly as possible regardless and saying he would be a strong vote for the President's agenda.

With Trump already opposing him on Twitter, Sessions could do no better than 32 percent and a second place finish. Finishing just about him with 33 percent was political newcomer Tommy Tuberville, a former head coach of Auburn University's football team. College football is basically king in Alabama, and with so much opposition to Sessions, even fans of the University of Alabama's Crimson Tide put aside past rivalries to side with Tuberville. While the former coach joined all of his opponents in declaring extreme loyalty to Trump, Tuberville was basically someone who had never been seen as being politically ambitious. He had been living in Florida before deciding to return to Alabama to make this race. While he had much success for a time as the head coach of the Tigers, he had left that post under somewhat of an ethical cloud. He would resurface as head coach at a couple "lesser conferences" than the SEC leading teams that did not fare all that well overall.

The runoff though seemed like the result would be clear when Trump offered his full endorsement to Tuberville and continued hammering away at Sessions. The former Senator said he was the true conservative in the race and that Tuberville had ties to figures in the party with anti-Trump ties. All Tuberville, who avoided debates, really had to do was to remind the GOP voters that Sessions had somehow abandoned Trump in a time of need and that the President was really angry at him. Tuberville was expected to win but his runoff margin of 61-39 was larger than anticipated and a clear rebuke of Sessions.

In some ways, this was not welcome news for Democrats of course, as a Sessions candidacy might have lead Trump to basically boycott the race. That would have perhaps been Jones best shot, but instead he now faces Tuberville, a candidate running on conservative themes favored by the state's voters but without a political record to have to defend.

The current incumbent Jones will do very well with the state's African-American voters and perhaps will be able to see his personal favorability and biography keep this race closer than it might otherwise be. Democrats in the state, whom have struggled mightily statewide in recent years, are going hard against Tuberville, trying to portray him as an empty suit and even reminding the voters that he had lost as Auburn head coach to SEC traditional weak sister Vanderbilt. They point out how he had broken many promises as a coach as he climbed the professional ladder. Such a thing is hardly unusual though when it comes to big name coaches.

Campaign 2020 might prove to be a very tough one for Republicans nationwide, including in Senate contests, but Alabama is still Alabama. This is a state where Trump's support will still do more good than harm. Right now, the polls show a somewhat modest lead for Tuberville over Jones leading many to think that the Democrats might somehow be able to pull another rabbit out of his hat. This would likely involve a significant campaign gaffe or political "turnover" by Tuberville though. At the homestretch, many whom identify as conservatives or those whom remained loyal to Sessions might "come home" to the Republican nominee.

Right now, the race looks somewhat competitive, and I am being cautious by calling it "Leans Republican" but a GOP landslide is probably more likely in Alabama than a victory of any sort for Jones. He simply is not running against an alleged serial predator of young girls anymore, and thus anything with a ten point loss might be the best he can hope for.

U.S. Senate races predicted thus far:

0 D
1 R (1 Lean)

Total with predictions thus far:

35 Democrats (35 holdovers)
31 Republicans (30 holdovers, 1 Lean)

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Race for the White House # 82

Tomorrow  means we will reach the 100 day mark until the 2020 Presidential election. This is clearly a campaign season like none other. At the moment, the polls portend a potential blowout for the Democrat, but supporters of the Republican incumbent seem to think these polls are "fake" and remember the surprise of most four years ago when Donald Trump was elected.

All sorts of things happened this week and it is nearly impossible to keep up with all of them. Trump is now sending "federal forces" into American cities in the supposed attempts to quell violence and this is leading to a lot of controversy and questions of Constitutionality. He also has resumed, somewhat, his daily Coronavirus press conferences, in which he is appearing solo and saying some weird things, such as saying he wishes jailed accused sex trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell, the ex girlfriend and accomplice of the late Jeffrey Epstein "well", and points out that he met her several times.Was he just totally unprepared for this question and perhaps not even aware of a high profile matter before his own Justice Department or was he trying to send her a veiled message to be quiet, the way he has told other past allies?

On the matter of the virus itself, Trump continues to sometimes give mixed messages, but has been a bit more realistic and sober in his assessment this past week saying it is likely that things will get worse before they get better. He also took the unprecedented step of canceling the Florida portion of the rearranged Republican National Convention. This means, as many expected, that there will not be anything this summer resembling typical conventions. Both Trump and Joe Biden will likely give addresses in front of a camera, but before largely empty rooms. It has been reported that Trump has been told that his opponent in this race is not as much Biden, but the virus itself. For all intents and purposes, that is accurate. Unless Trump can show that he has gotten a better handle in dealing with what America has been facing, both functionally and in a public leadership way, he really does not have much of a chance of gaining another four years. What Biden does is largely irrelevant. There are a lot of questions and doubts about Joe Biden, but what he also has going for him is that he is also nowhere near as disliked as Hillary Clinton was. He also of course does not have to face the task of being the first ever female Presidential nominee.

Fairly soon, Biden will announce his pick for Vice President and while numbers twos on tickets rarely make the difference in elections, they are covered, at least at first, quite heavily by the media. Biden will be the nation's oldest President if elected, and while he is said to want to serve two full terms, many expect that there will be a different nominee for his party in 2024 and I think that at a certain point in a Biden Administration, many in the left of the party will call for the President to step aside in favor of a younger, female, and likely more liberal Vice President. If that happens, the Democrats will have a chance to have an incumbent run twice and potentially serve 10 years in the Oval Office. Nonetheless, Biden is said to want to have his moment of glory, both in the campaign, and in the White House, largely to himself and is reluctant to pick anyone who might "overshadow" him or has Presidential ambitions of their own. While it is true that most recent successful picks have been altered toward the governing process, I do not believe Biden's age nor the tumultuous situation of the country really gives him the luxury of being that selective.

Biden has long said he will pick a woman to run with, who will join the ranks of the late Geraldine Ferraro and the now politically dead Sarah Palin as the only women to be nominated for Veep under a major party label (Selina Meyer does not count.) I want to briefly address the names that are being mentioned as the woman who might face incumbent Mike Pence in a debate.

Two U.S. Senators have already ruled themselves out. They are Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada. It is far more likely that Biden will pick a racial minority female for this job which would rule out Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham would be the first Latino or Latina on a ticket, but she seems unlikely at this point. There has been some talk that another white female, Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin is being considered, but I do not think that is likely. She would be the first openly gay person on a national ticket.

There is another Midwestern  Senator named Tammy though that has been getting a lot of recent buzz. That is Tammy Duckworth of Illinois. Born abroad to an American father and a Thai mother, Duckworth is a genuine American hero who lost both legs serving in the military as a pilot in the Iraq War. I have watched her career locally since she first made her political debut and she has been both my Congresswomen and Senator. I admit that I would appreciate the contrast between her and Trump on the matter of service and personal courage, but I have to say, I do not think she is exactly the sharpest knife in the drawer and would probably commit some political gaffes under the national lights. Biden will do enough of that himself. She is said to be very seriously considered though which might mean that if she is picked, her former boss, the disgraced ex Governor of Illinois Rod Blagojevich, flung from prison from Trump, will get a lot of tv airtime talking about her in support of his new hero, Donald Trump.

Several African-American females are under consideration including Florida Congresswoman Val Demings (whom I suppose would be the pick I would object to the least) and California Senator Kamala Harris. Both have long associations though with law enforcement, from having respectively been a cop and a prosecutor and sadly enough many in the Democrat Party would find that life and work experience to be a negative. Nobody believes that former Georgia Gubernatorial nominee Stacy Abrams is under serious consideration, because she lobbied too hard for it, but there may be an outside chance for Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, an early Biden supporter. She received high marks from some for the passionate way she defended her community during the early stages of the riots a couple months ago, but an incident with the police only led to further violence in her city. Recently, she and other members of her family have been recovering from Covid-19.

If Biden wants to pick  a low-key policy wonk that he has worked with before, there will be many who will suggest former Obama Administration National Security Advisor Susan Rice, an African-American woman. She clearly seems to want the job, despite having never run for office before. During her tenure in government, she was often controversial. I note that it would be interesting though how her selection would handle the fact that her only son is a former, and perhaps even still current, College Republican leader, who has expressed his support for Donald Trump.

Another African-American woman has been getting talked about as a real possibility more frequently and I never would have expected at the beginning of the process that California Congresswoman Karen Bass would be a factor (even putting aside what has seemingly happened in online culture regarding the female name Karen)

Bass, the current Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus seems like a very nice person, but she represents a district in Los Angeles that is one of the most heavily Democrat in the country, So, she has never really had to go about trying to reach swing voters. Biden has a bond with her because they have both been parents who have sadly lost children. She also at age 66 is believed to not have any Presidential ambitions of her own and would seemingly be content to play second banana. If she is picked, there will be attention paid to her very liberal voting record as well as to statements she made upon the death of Cuba's dictator Fidel Castro.

Needless to say, whomever Biden picks is unlikely to be someone I will share much in the way of ideological kinship with, but I still hope he picks wisely. It is doubtful that his chances of winning will go away because of a bad pick, but there are some that would be more helpful in winning potential swing voters than others. Most importantly though, considering Biden's age, it is important he pick someone who could conceivably serve in the top job credibly, from Day 1. We have learned from the Trump Era just how bad an unprepared person can be. Biden needs to keep all this in mind as more important than potentially being "outshined." Frankly, many Americans who will vote for Biden will do so hoping they see and hear far less from him and about him than the person who currently occupies the office.

Friday, July 24, 2020

Holdover U.S. Senators

Below is a list of Senators who will still be around after this November's election, unless they find something they would rather be doing or perhaps resign in disgrace.

AL- Richard Shelby R
AK- Lisa Murkowski R
AZ- Kirsten Sinema D
AR- John Boozman R
CA- Dianne Feinstein D
CA- Kamala Harris D
CO- Michael Bennet D
CT- Richard Blumenthal D
CT- Chris Murphy D
DE- Tom Carper D
FL- Marco Rubio R
FL- Rick Scott R
HI- Brian Schatz D
HI- Mazie Hirono D
ID- Mike Crapo R
IL- Tammy Duckworth D
IN- Todd Young R
IN- Mike Braun R
IA- Chuck Grassley R
KS- Jerry Moran R
KY- Rand Paul R
LA- John Kennedy R
ME- Angus King I-D
MD- Ben Cardin D
MD- Chris Van Hollen D
MA- Elizabeth Warren D
MI- Debbie Stabenow D
MN- Amy Klobuchar D
MS- Roger Wicker R
MO- Roy Blunt R
MO- Josh Hawley R
MT- Jon Tester D
NE- Deb Fischer R
NV- Catherine Cortez Masto D
NV- Jackie Rosen D
NH- Maggie Hassan D
NJ- Bob Menendez D
NM- Martin Heinrich D
NY- Chuck Schumer D
NY- Kirsten Gillibrand D
NC- Richard Burr R
ND- John Hoeven R
ND- Kevin Cramer R
OH- Sherrod Brown D
OH- Rob Portman R
OK- James Lankford R
OR- Ron Wyden D
PA- Bob Casey D
PA- Pat Toomey R
RI- Sheldon Whitehouse D
SC- Tim Scott R
SD- John Thune R
TN- Marsha Blackburn R
TX- Ted Cruz R
UT- Mike Lee R
UT- Mitt Romney R
VT- Pat Leahy D
VT- Bernie Sanders I-D
VA- Tim Kaine D
WA- Patty Murray D
WA- Maria Cantwell D
WV- Joe Manchin D
WI- Ron Johnson R
WI- Tammy Baldwin D
WY- John Barrasso R

Holdover U.S. Senators:

35 Democrats
30 Republicans

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Holdover Governors

As we begin to look towards the statewide contests of 2020, here is a list of current Governors who will still be in place next year, as long as they do not get a new job.

AL- Kay Ivey R
AK- Mike Dunleavy R
AZ- Doug Ducey R
AR- Asa Hutchinson R
CA- Gavin Newsom D
CO- Jared Polis D
CT- Ned Lamont D
FL- Ron DeSantis R
GA- Brian Kemp R
HI-  David Ige D
ID-  Brad Little R
IL-  JB Pritzker D
IA-  Kim Reynolds R
KS- Laura Kelly D
KY- Andy Beshear D
LA- John Bel Edwards D
ME- Janet Mills D
MD- Larry Hogan R
MA- Charlie Baker R
MI-  Gretchen Whitmer D
MN- Tim Walz D
MS-  Tate Reeves R
NE-  Pete Ricketts R
NV-  Steve Sisolak D
NJ-   Phil Murphy D
NM- Michelle Lujan Grisham D
NY-  Andrew Cuomo D
OH- Mike DeWine R
OK- Kevin Stitt R
OR- Kate Brown D
PA- Tom Wolf D
RI-  Gina Raimondo D
SC- Henry McMaster R
SD- Kristi Noem R
TN- Bill Lee R
TX- Greg Abbot R
VA- Ralph Northam D
WI- Tony Evers D
WY- Mark Gordon R

Holdover Governors:
20 Democrats
19 Republicans

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Race for the White House # 81

If life were what we were all expecting it to be not long ago, this weekend would consist of reviewing the recently closed Democrat National Convention in Milwaukee. That is on hold though of course until next month, and it will pretty much be a virtual event, as delegates are being asked to stay at home. Joe Biden and his yet to be named running mate might speak to a largely empty arena, much like the return of professional baseball, hockey, and basketball. We would also be talking about the opening of the Tokyo Olympics this upcoming weekend. Who would have represented the Trump Administration at Opening Ceremonies? That is on hold though until next year, when there may be a new Administration altogether. It remains to be seen though whether the Games can even still be held in 2021.

So, this weekend, the talk on cable news is of course still about the coronavirus but also about yesterday's passing of Congressman John Lewis, a Georgia Democrat, at the age of 80. His illness had been known and sadly took him swiftly, even as he remained a candidate for reelection. Beyond more than his nearly 35 years in Congress, Lewis is honored as a stalwart of the Civil Rights Movement. At the age of 23, he was the youngest person to address the historic March on Washington, and he was the last remaining survivor to have shared that stage with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Two years later, he was badly beaten while marching on the Edmund Pettis Bridge in Alabama, but never slowed down his pursuit for justice. I join many others in believing that bridge should be named after him instead of the historically dishonorable person it is named for now.

Lewis was of course a passionate and partisan Democrat and frequently clashed with Republicans. Sometimes his rhetoric was overly heated but the respect and admiration that all Americans should have for him is clear. While the flags at the White House were brought down to half mast, the current President waited many hours, until after most others had publicly offered condolences, to issue a relatively short Tweet expressing his sadness. Perhaps, he was just too busy golfing earlier.

In the meantime, the campaign remains in a holding pattern. Biden still needs to pick his running mate and still largely remains out of news cycles in terms of live events or appearances. Trump seems to have surrendered to the spread of the virus in parts of the country where it had been believed to have gotten better but has posed (perhaps in violation of the law) with Goya food products because of the predictable kerfuffle when the CEO of that company offered praise of Trump. People should be free to buy or not buy Goya products based on their own free will. It matters none to me, as I do not believe I have ever eaten anything from the company. First Daughter Ivanka Trump also posed, perhaps in violation of the Hatch Act, with a can of Goya beans. I find that ironic because "Goya" might be what her husband Jared's family refers to her as.

Tomorrow, an interview will air from the White House in which Trump sat down with Chris Wallace of Fox News and it is said that it did not go well for the incumbent. Wallace pushed back on unsubstantiated charges Trump leveled against Biden and when Trump said he could prove it, was unable to do so with cameras rolling and documents being looked at. The left should acknowledge this all took place on Fox News, one of their favorite boogeymen. Clips also show Trump saying that while he has nothing against masks, he also believes people need the freedom to make their own decisions and that masks can be dangerous too. The arguments we hear from the anti-maskers among us are some of the greatest stretches of logic I have ever heard and those who do not wear a mask in public, while around others, are clearly prolonging the time it will take until this tragic chapter in our history is over.

In mentioning Chris Wallace, I should point out that it was 40 years ago this past week, when Wallace, as a young journalist (who had a very famous father) was the first reporter to break an important story. On the floor of the Republican National Convention in Detroit, Wallace reported on NBC News that the soon to be nominated Ronald Reagan had picked former primary rival George Bush as his Vice Presidential running mate. Before that, the talk was of a Reagan and Gerald Ford "Dream Ticket" in which the term "co-Presidency" was bandied around by some in the media. That was not meant to be, probably for good reason, and the selection of Bush set in motion a chain of events that likely made it possible for two men named George Bush to one day succeed Reagan as President of the United States. I have no memory of course of this happening then in 1980, but I am glad it happened, and only wish there was something this political year to be as excited about.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Race for the White House # 80

No, Kanye West is not running for President. At least not this cycle. Regardless of what he might have said on social media or the wacky interview he might have given to a magazine, it is simply not going to happen. Perhaps not bad publicity though for the member of the Kardashian-Jenner celebritocracy He also may be mentally ill. Of course so may the current President. It was pretty ridiculous though to hear how much mention this "candidacy" received early in the week, as if he could even get on the ballot. Trump supporters seemed especially anxious to consider how he might cut into Joe Biden's support among African-Americans, putting aside that West was not long ago a red-hat wearing public admirer of the incumbent.

Future elections may see all sorts of unorthodox Presidential candidates, but minus a drop out, it seems like this race is pretty much baked in the cake. Who will get the third highest number of total votes this cycle? Will it be Libertarian Jo Jorgensen, a South Carolina college professor? She is about the most low profile Libertarian candidate in decades but perhaps one of the least crazy too. Then again, just how much do we really know about her?

Once again this week, it seems like the mood of the country remains the same and fatigue of Trump has Biden in good shape to defeat him, in spite of perhaps little enthusiasm for Biden personally. Each day, there seems to be another story about Trump. I heard the saying on tv today, "shocking but not surprising", and that seems to define just about everything Trump does. At least he wore a mask today though, visiting patients at Walter Reed Hospital. It would be a good thing for America if his acolytes follow suit and help us mitigate the increasing cases of Covid 19. The cable news stations seem to be playing the video of the Presidentially masked Trump walking down the hallways with his entourage on a constant loop. I am sure somewhere on the internet, it is already set to "The Imperial March" from the Star Wars saga. Darth Vader turned out to have some redeeming qualities at the very end though The effort to get Trump to wear a mask was said to be very difficult with staffers basically pleading with him to do so. Clearly, the people around him like to leak too.

Personal opinions of Trump have long been present for most of us. I should note that my personal diagnosis of Trump's psyche as a mere amateur appears to jibe completely with that of his niece Mary, who is also a professional in the field. Basically, Fred Trump Sr. was a horrible person who did permanent damage to his sons at a young age. This would lead her father Fred Jr. to a struggle with alcohol and an early death, while Donald was able to focus on trying to please his demanding father and became what he did. (I also think there might have been a similar dynamic in play in the suburban Chicago Rodham household, albeit with a more active mother figure involved as a contrast.)

Mary Trump's book, which I have not read, seems to have all sorts of "dirt" regarding to her family's finances and potential illegal tax schemes. No wonder Donald Trump seemed so upset this week when seven Supreme Court Justices, including the two he himself nominated, ruled that he as President was not above the law and the Manhattan District Attorney has the right to try to obtain his tax records. Basically though this was remanded down to the lower courts, so the prosecutor in New York City and Congress are going to have to fight this out in court some more. The American people are not going to see the Trump tax returns before the election, which should be no surprise at all .Once again though, he seems to have something major to hide that may put him at great personal risk of prosecution the day he is no longer President.

The niece's book also claims that Trump paid a Jewish kid to take his SAT test for him a long time ago and that his sister used to do his college homework for him. No wonder we have never seen Trump's academic records, which was something he used to frequently mention about Obama. This week, Trump also oddly say that he "aced" a cognitive exam given at Walter Reed Hospital and that the physicians were "surprised." That leads to just what caused him to take this test and why there was such surprise. There has been a lot of gossip about an unusual sudden trip to Walter Reed by Trump months ago. I do not know what to make of that, but hopefully he did not pay anybody to take his cognitive exams.

Yesterday, Trump commuted the prison sentence of Roger Stone, his longest political advisor, who was convicted for lying about Trump in the Russia investigation and was expected to begin his prison term very soon. Technically, Stone remains a convicted felon, but is quite pleased about this favor his old friend did for him. He said openly he could have rolled over on Trump for prosecutors but remained loyal. Now, this loyalty has been repaid. Others are asking just what Stone may have on Trump that his former political consulting partner Paul Manafort did not.

Most Trump supporters will either applaud or shrug off this action, but at least there is one principled GOP Senator left in Mitt Romney of Utah. Today, he referred to this action as an example of "unprecedented corruption." Indeed on the Presidential level he is right. Neither Richard Nixon nor Bill Clinton would have ever done anything this brazen. With Trump though, it might be "shocking" but it certainly is not surprising. Trump boot lickers of course turn their fire on Romney while not even bothering to examine what happened and what it might mean. Many in Trump's official world, including Atttorney General Bill Barr were said to have lobbied against such a move.

For an incumbent with weak numbers and trailing his opponent, this cannot help politically. Perhaps Trump just does not even care anymore. It might cost Republicans the Senate though. The captain seems more than willing to let the entire ship go down with him. Democrat hegemony in the federal government might wind up being bad for America but it is hard to argue that the Republican Party did not bring it upon themselves.

Saturday, July 04, 2020

Race for the White House # 79

Today is an Independence Day like none other. The fireworks we hear may be coming more from people in their yards and on the street than towns holding big gatherings with professional pyrotechnics. America has been through a lot in the last four months between a pandemic and widespread discontent related both to that event and the longer term impact of societal injustice. Four months from today, we will wake up and Election Day will be over. Will we know who has won? Even if the outcome seems clear, it may take days or even weeks to count mail in ballots. It is unlikely there will be early concessions this cycle. Will there eventually be a concession at all?

For many, times seem tough right now, especially with the virus seeing new spikes in large parts of the country, and it feels a bit hard to celebrate and be patriotic. I hope though that we can keep the focus on the resilience of America which has always gotten us through tough times and will do so again, as we strive for a More Perfect Union.

We should be mindful of our history and not try to erase it, but history has a lot of sides. There are many statues and monuments which should remain and which require context and a larger story. As I have stated before though, others should go from places of reverence as they relate to the darkest chapters in our history.Extremes on both sides are trying to dive America on these cultural grounds. "Cancel culture" is a problem, but so is the divisive intent coming from the fledgling campaign of the incumbent President, who refuses to see any issue with Confederate monuments and who briefly but curiously Tweeted a video of a supporter yelling "White Power!" last Sunday. The Tweet came down soon enough but the message remained. For Trump, it's always about him and he will stand against anyone who criticizes him in anyway and with anyone, regardless of how troubled, who defends him. Maybe he heard the "white power" and did not care or maybe he was just too into his own ego to hear it at first listen.

Despite health risks, Trump has had a couple high profile gatherings to celebrate Independence Day. Last night, he appeared at Mt. Rushmore, which honors the legacy of four legendary American Presidents that Mr. Trump could never hope to replicate. Many in the media and on the left criticize him for this visit, beyond the virus factor, pointing out that there were ties to slavery for two of the Presidents, and that the original sculptor may have not been a great person, or that the monument is on Native American land. None of these things were ever said though when President Barack Obama or then Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders visited the site. This double standard only outrages Trump supporters and leads to more polarization. They should not be the only ones who note the hypocrisy though.

So much of what we are dealing with seems contradictory. Trump is very intent on trying to divide a wedge in these speeches by saying the left is trying to erase history and denigrate our Founding Fathers. At the same time however, many Americans, especially those who may lean left, were spending their evening streaming "Hamilton" on Disney Plus. Go figure.

As the election grows closer, each passing week continues to bring bad headlines for Trump. One involving the concept of ignoring Russian bounties places on American troops on Afghanistan is perhaps as troubling about Trump as whatever he heard. Was he complicit or just tragically uninformed? We do not know for sure just how true the story is, but it definitely is something the Intelligence Community was talking about and that Trump should have heard. Did he? If not, why? It seems like perhaps his advisors were just afraid to tell him anything negative about Russia and Vladimir Putin.

This past week, Democrat Joe Biden held, sort of, his first press conference in months. As is typical, he rambled a bit and misspoke at times. His presentation is awkward and that is not something that will ever change as long as he is in public life. The claims though that he is demonstrating senility appear ridiculous though. This tactic is the hallmark of the effort to reelect Trump but seems futile. All that can really be said is that Biden is same frequent blowhard he has been since he was in his 30s. The newest thing is the claim that Biden is ready for an institution because he said on video, "I'm Joe Biden, Joe Biden's husband." No. The audio quality might have been bad, but he clearly said, "I'm Jill Biden's husband." Indeed he is. Trump may be the one who has trouble remembering the name of the woman he is currently married to.

As tough as times are this summer, I will continue to choose to be patriotic. America has always been great and always in need of being made better. That will not change. Next year at this time, I hope we will have a vaccine to eradicate the fear of this virus. I hope Major League Baseball and the rest of the sports world are back to operating the way they used to. I also hope we have a new President and maybe can go a few days here and there without seeing or hearing or needing to think about Donald Trump.

Most likely I will not like the policies and directions this new President will be taking the country even as I will be glad Trump is gone. That is where patriotism will need to be even more present throughout the nation because per our spectacular democratic traditions, there will be much to speak out against and try to stop or change.